Rolling electricity blackouts, known as load shedding, threaten South Africa’s fruit production and agriculture exports, especially considering the current weather patterns. Citrus Growers Association CEO said the rainy season had not commenced in most citrus-growing regions, and weather fronts were resulting in extreme heat cycles, rendering fruit trees entirely dependent on irrigation. “Most irrigation systems run on electricity, as opposed to gravitational pressure, with the decentralised nature of pump stations on a typical farm making it impossible for generators to do the job,” he said.
Similarly, the CEO of Hortgro pointed out that deciduous fruit orchards had to be irrigated from now until harvesting, and said the relatively dry winter in some parts of the Western Cape at present was making this even more important. He further added that disruptions to growers’ irrigation programmes were irreversible, resulting in growth losses, crops starting to show stress, and greater susceptibility of trees to diseases.